Liposomal irinotecan in the treatment of refractory pancreatic cancer

Harold Bien, Gerardo Mackenzie, Minsig Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Effective therapies against metastatic pancreatic cancer remain limited, and despite treatment, many will ultimately progress. Previously, few options were available for second line therapy in metastatic pancreatic cancer. Liposomal encapsulated irinotecan, in combination with leucovorin-modulated fluorouracil, was found to significantly increase overall survival in patients who have progressed after gemcitabine-based therapy in a large, international, randomized clinical trial (NAPOLI-1). We reviewed the background of systemic therapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer, examined putative mechanisms for the success of encapsulated drugs, and identified recent patent applications on the use of liposomal irinotecan in pancreatic cancer. The landmark NAPOLI-1 trial established a second-line option for those with metastatic pancreatic cancer refractory to gemcitabine chemotherapy, but effective therapies with long duration of response are still lacking. Alternative techniques targeting key driver genes in pancreatic cancer and novel methods of early detection and targeting drugs are currently being explored. How liposomal irinotecan can be integrated into chemotherapy regimens, including neoadjuvant or first line combinations, are currently being tested in clinical trials and covered by several new patent applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-383
Number of pages8
JournalRecent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Liposomal irinotecan
  • MM-398
  • Nal-IRI
  • NAPOLI-1
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Refractory cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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